Wed February 25, 2004 12:10 PM ET

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – President Bush said on Wednesday that the deteriorating situation in Haiti may require an international security presence once a political settlement is reached.

Haitian President Jean-Bertrand Aristide has called for a security presence to be sent to quell an armed rebellion against him, but Bush was insistent that peacekeepers only be sent once a political settlement is reached.

“Incident to a political settlement, we will encourage the international community to provide a security presence,” Bush told reporters. “First things first.”

Bush also said he had instructed the U.S. Coast Guard to turn back any fleeing Haitians who seek to land at U.S. shores.

“We will have a robust presence with an effective strategy, and so we strongly encourage the Haitian people to stay home as we work to effect a peaceful solution to this problem,” Bush said.